One of the many things about Internet publishing that differentiates it from other mediums is the ability to personalize and target users with appropriate content and advertising.
Indeed, I believe the strength of newspaper Web sites is, and will be, highly targeted advertising.
The only way to achieve highly targeted advertising is by making users register and tracking their content and advertising preferences.
But, The Washington Post has achieved a happy middle-ground between total registration and willy-nilly readership.
When a non-registered user views the site, the first time they click on a story link they’re presented with a page that asks for four things: gender, birth year, ZIP code and country.
That’s great! With age and zip code, you can get an educated guess as to the demographics of your user and deliver appropriate advertising.
The data you enter is saved in a cookie, but it expires eventually. So frequent viewers will have an enticement to register, and occasional readers get access with little hassle.